Thursday, September 01, 2005

Euphemism and cultural relevance

"The [flying of planes into tall buildings is] understood by both Arabs and non-Arabs... even by Chinese."

Osama bin Laden demonstrating that even crazies in caves use "Chinese" as short-hand for "you won't understand them and they won't understand you".

(link: later conversation turns to football (albeit with a flying-planes-into-buildings twist))

When I was 14, I wondered how my Dad's painter and decorator friend was big-house-with-swimming-pool-in-leafy-part-of-London-rich.

Me: How comes your mate Painter Decorator's got such a big house with a swimming pool?

Hughes the Elder: ...well...err...well...he's done work for Arabs y'know.

Me: ...

I now know that "done work for Arabs" is a Hughes-the-Elder short-hand for "married money".

I wonder who the Chinese think is unintelligible and Arabs think is rich? And do they both use "Greek" as short-hand for "buggery"?